Reply To: English guns for the Sardinian frigate Carlo Alberto 1853

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J. D. H

    From Joe Clarke’s Building Ships on the North East Coast: a Labour of Love, Risk and Pain [2 vols, Whitley Bay 1997]:
    Carlo Alberto (Ex-Sardinian screw-frigate launched 1853, 8 x 160mm ML rifles, 10 x 108pdr shell guns, 32 x 72pdr shell guns, 7 small guns (note: The ship may have been re-armed later).
    She was built by T & W Smith in a covered
    berth at St Peters, the first covered berth on the River Tyne. She was the largest wood vessel ever built [on the Tyne] and was launched on 23 May 1853. She ended up on a sandbank on the south shore when a warp broke but got off unharmed. She was a three-decker pierced for 50 guns.
    She was 245 feet extreme length. 50 feet breadth and 32 feet deep.
    It was necessary to dredge 200,000 tons [of silt]out of the Tyne to create a special channel to enable the frigate to reach Shields harbour – the dredging cost £1,600. She was docked for coppering at Shields on 23 June. Four weeks later she was taken to Peggy’s Hole where she waited six months for her engines made by Stephensons.
    The Carlo Alberto sailed on 20 February 1854 for Woolwich to be armed there.
    From Napoleonic times until at least the late 1850s there was a firm of gun manufacturers called William Hood at Earl Street, Blackfriars, London who had the ability and capacity to manufacture the guns mentioned in the enquiry. They were approved government contractors. In the firm there was also a Charles Hood. There is no mention of a Thomas Hood Company in Kelly’s London Trade Directory for 1854 or 1855. It would seem probable that William Hood was the firm responsible for supplying the guns to the Carlo Alberto. A useful reference is A N Kennard’s Gunfounding and Gunfounders: a directory of cannon founders from the earliest times to 1850, London and New York 1986.